“A dog has the soul of a philosopher.” – Plato
Are you one of the 70% of people who sign their pet dog’s name on greeting cards? No need to confess, just read on! Did you know that three dogs actually survived the Titanic? They were a Newfoundland, a Pomeranian and a Pekingese. I do not know what was in their genetic makeup which helped them do that. Maybe they were just lucky.
So, are dog breeds all different? What role does genetics, training and the dog’s own personality play in determining whether they are indeed man’s best friend? Let us look at 8 facts which are backed by science which will help us understand this better.
1. Belgian shepherd dogs can sniff out cancer and other diseases
It is generally known that dogs have an extremely acute sense of smell, about 100,000 times sharper than ours. Scientific studies have been done on the Belgian shepherd dogs (the Malinois) which have shown that they can detect prostate cancer in men. These dogs were able to correctly detect the cancer by sniffing urine samples.
Apparently cancer cells leave a particular odor which these dogs can pick up, after training. They got 63 out of 66 right! These studies were conducted by a French researcher and were presented at a conference organized by the American Urological Association.
2. Border collies, poodles and German shepherds are the most intelligent dogs
If you ever wanted a really intelligent dog as a pet, choose one of the above. These dogs are actually as clever as a two year child and they can process up to 165 different gestures, movements and words. Not bad for a dog. The Afghan hound comes at the bottom of the list as being pretty dumb. These findings were the result of research carried out by a canine researcher, Dr. Stanley Coren, of the University of British Columbia.
3. There’s selective breeding for tailor made dogs
Consumer tastes and dog breeders have collaborated in producing dog breeds which meet market demands. This is why we have hunting dogs, sociable dogs and guard dogs. The only problem here is that the inbreeding leads to many dogs having typical diseases which are now very hard to eliminate.
Golden retrievers are more liable to get cancer while King Charles spaniels may have more heart diseases. Experts say that pugs could be bred to have larger muzzles so that they do not suffer from respiratory diseases, like they do now.
4. A special dog breed is supposed to help autistic children
A cross breed of the golden retriever and poodle (the golden doodle) is now being bred to help children with autism (ASD). They have been incredibly successful in that the kids’ sleeping patterns and general behavior have improved by leaps and bounds. This new breed of dog combines the star qualities of both in that they are friendly, patient, loyal and above all forgiving when the kids give them a rough time. These dogs have enriched the lives of autistic children and helped them to lead more normal lives.
5. Chocolate can kill a dog
Chocolate can make your dog very sick or even kill him or her. An 8 lb. pound poodle was fed one pound of chocolate on her birthday and nearly died. If you feed a golden retriever who weighs about 60 pounds with a bag of Hershey kisses, then the effects will be much less severe. The problem is that chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic for dogs. Another bad idea is to feed a dog with apple or pear seeds as these contain arsenic which can also be fatal for dogs.
6. The Newfoundland is the best swimmer
This breed of dog is known for its webbed feet and strong swimming skills. It is no surprise to learn that it was first used to help fisherman in Newfoundland to pull in their nets and also in helping to haul back wood from the forests. They have a double waterproof coat which helps them survive in icy waters. They are strong, loving, courageous, and loyal. They make great guard dogs, too. The only problem is that they adore water and mud which can make them a difficult home pet.
7. Moscow stray dogs
These 35,000 feral dogs are famous for many reasons. One is that they have become much smarter at getting people to drop their snacks just bought at the food kiosks. They sneak up and bark at the customer who, startled, drops it and the dog gobbles it up. This is known as “the hunt for shawarma”.
Another incredible thing is that these dogs have become adept at travelling on the subway to get from one part of the city to the other. They seem to possess an inbuilt sense of timing to know when to get off at the right metro stop! They are also better behaved on the metro than they are on the streets when hunting down food. Biologists, such as Andrei Poyarkov, who have studied these dogs noticed that they have learned how to cross streets by using the traffic lights. They have also adapted to the continually evolving Russian capital.
8. Dogs who look like wolfs live longer
Generally, dogs live about 15 years but this does vary according to the size and face features of whichever breed we are talking about. Bulldogs and pugs who have flat muzzles tend to live shorter lives. Those who look more like their wolf ancestors with sharp, pointed features will live longer. This is just one of the fun facts mentioned in Planet Dog: A Doglopedia by Sandra and Harry Choron. The longest living dog was a Queensland Heeler called Bluey who lived to the ripe old age of 29 years and 5 months.
Do you have any fun facts about dog breeds to pass on?
Featured photo credit: Spoosquatch/ Perry McKenna via flickr.com